Hiking the Escalante Wilderness in Utah is a treat – especially the Deer Creek Trail. On our recent visit to southwestern Utah we decided to do the Deer Creek hike after hearing that the unsigned trail was supposed to be easy to follow. The trailhead was only about seven miles from where we were staying in Boulder – just off the Burr Trail – an exceptionally scenic road that is well worth investigating at the end of the hike.
The Deer Creek trail is obvious for most of the route. And it’s easy to get your bearings if you veer off since trees line the creek – and they’re the only big ones for miles around.
Updated March 2020.
The trailhead was obvious because of a campground – appropriately named the Deer Creek Campground. We started just across from it.
Heading off we had no real idea of what we were getting into and how long the trail might be. In theory we knew you could hike all the way to the Escalante River – but this is canyon country and we didn’t know if we’d need ropes to accomplish that.
And we hadn’t had our day of canyoneering yet so I was still circumspect about getting in over our heads.
The unmarked Deer Creek Trail is easy to follow
As it turned out the Deer Creek Trail really was easy to follow. In fact we were tempted to go and hike up some of the nearby hills on the slickrock that is so prevalent in the area. But we didn’t – more because of the heat – about 85°F in mid-October and we hadn’t brought enough water.
Beautiful canyon scenery
As we continued along the trail the canyon walls grew bigger and bigger. Not only that but our world started to narrow. We got to the point where we had no choice but to turn around or wade through the water.
So wade we did – in water so cold our feet hurt within seconds of being in it.
We continued for about 15 more minutes from where we had slipped on the Tevas. John was a little disappointed that I wasn’t feeling more adventurous and in hindsight perhaps we should have explored further.
I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. And the debris left from an obviously recent flash flood had my imagination working overtime.
We retraced our steps and found a lovely lunch spot in the shade with canyon views that were nothing short of spectacular.
And then we did some nearby exploring of the rock below and found a petrogylph.
Time needed for the Deer Creek hike
All told the hike took us about four hours including a long lunch stop and several breaks in the shade just to admire the scenery. We saw a total of three people – all within the first half mile of the car.
The hike certainly gave you the sense of being out there and if we’d had decent maps and more canyoneering skills I think we could have explored further.
Another nearby hiking option
Another hike we had thought we’d do but decided against it because of the afternoon heat was The Gulch – just four miles further up the Burr Trail.
It takes you up Long Canyon and can be hiked in either direction. Instead we enjoyed a drive of the Burr Trail from the air conditioned comfort of our car. But we have a reason now to return.
Tips for hiking the Deer Creek Trail, Escalante Wilderness in Utah
Carry lots of water.
Bring a wide brimmed hat.
Always carry the 10 hiking essentials.
Leave a note – with someone or at the very least in your car on where you plan to hike.
Keep an eye on the weather. Canyons are prone to flash floods.
For more information about traveling to Utah visit the Utah tourism website.
Further reading on hikes in Utah
- The Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon
- The Chimney Rock Trail, Capitol Reef National Park
- A Visit to Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah
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